Friday, April 29, 2016

Where have you received the best customer service lately?

I think I shocked everyone at the breakfast meeting with my response - “Canada Post.”

We have a small Canada Post outlet at our local Shoppers Drug Mart, where you can wait forever in line as this grumpy employee slowly serves you.  

So no, this was not where I received the great service.

I had several copies of One Red Lipstick to ship out and with time to spare ventured into the main post office in Guelph, where the two staff both worked on the best and cheapest way to ship the books out. 

They checked around and found the perfect size envelopes which were on sale if I bought a box.  They helped do the labels and generally got the books lovingly sent out.

One looked up my Venture One card number and wrote it down for me, so I could continue to access discounts.  As a result, saving me $5 a book compared to what “grumpy lady” had charged me. 

Now that was not only great service, but saved me money too.  In other words, they put the customer first.  They cared.  They also took an interest and where curious about the book and what it was about.

Here’s some of the conclusions we reached as we brainstormed about good customer service. 

  • ·      It’s about going that extra mile to make sure the customer is satisfied – in fact when you wow them, you become memorable, like my ladies at Canada Post.

  • ·      It’s also about follow up, doing what you said you would do and when you said you would do it. 

  • ·      Taking an interest in your customer, remembering small details, tells them that you care.  

  • ·      Sending articles that might be of interest also keeps you top of mind.

  • ·      Hand-written notes to say thank you, especially if they make a referral.

My Canada Post ladies could just as easily just shipped the books out and charged me the highest price.  Instead, they took the time to work out what was best for me as the customer.  They put my needs first.   

Often we try to persuade customers to do what we want to offer, rather than looking at what they actually need.  When we listen and then deliver the goods, we all win.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Gratitude is the best attitude

“A person who feels appreciated will always do more than expected.”

 But we seem to have forgotten that.  Is it just me, or have we become a grumpier, more demanding society?

I ask because lately I’ve noticed how quickly people are to criticize, to point out faults and what’s not working, instead of appreciating or showing gratitude for what is.

Part of the problem lies in our use or abuse of email as a way of communicating our disgruntlement.  Perhaps the writer doesn’t realize just how her message sounds and perhaps too, we can read too much into the words chosen.

That said, I do find that people are often too preoccupied in what they want, and when they don’t get what they want, like the spoilt toddler, they have a tantrum thinking perhaps that will sway the decision and change the outcome.  Eh. No.

It’s too bad really because it is such a waste of energy, negative energy at that and I don’t find myself drawn or wanting to be around folks that give out such troubling vibes.

My advice?  Take a chill pill. 

Look at the big picture and perhaps reflect on the other person’s perspective.  If something is wrong, I’ve always found that being pleasant and polite gets you a lot further.  When we treat people with respect and value their time and expertise, they are more likely to work harder to fix the problem.

Gratitude and giving back is our theme for our upcoming conference on May 17.  I'm hoping people will listen and take notes.

As Andy Wooten suggests – “It doesn’t cost anything to tell someone thank you.” Try to say thanks to everyone that you can today.”

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Driving traffic to your business.

Apparently in the early days of Michelin Tires, sales were low and when the company looked into it, basically people were not driving as much as the company would like so the tires didn’t wear down and need to get replaced.

What to do?  They could have thrown more money at their advertising, but in some ways that wasn’t really the answer.  What they did next was so creative and really thinking through to the solution.

They decided to get people in their cars and on the road!  First they developed a map book which they provided free at gas stations.  They were super popular, and they took the guides one step further and created guides on where to stay, eat, shop and go in different cities.  This time they sold them.   Today you can still purchase the Michelin guides, and not only have they got folks out and about, driving their cars and wearing down those tires, but the guides have become another revenue stream.

When I first heard this story, I was really impressed with their creativity and I could also see how we can use their example in our own businesses.  It all gets back to having a book as a platform.

Like Michelin, entrepreneurs can use a book to drive traffic to their main business.  A book is one way to showcase your expertise, to give people a glimpse into the person behind the business persona, and at the same provide useful information that can help people.

Now let’s be clear here, unless you have a best seller on your hands, and I mean a real best seller not a # 1 on an Amazon obscure category, books are not a get-rich plan.

But they can open doors and lead to opportunities that can make you money through increased awareness of what you do and what you offer.  Adding “author” to your list of achievements, gives you credibility.

So if you are looking at ways to have potential clients ‘see the light’  consider writing a book – who knows, like Michelin, it could become the start of a whole new, long term project, one that makes for constant name recognition, and that is never a bad thing.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Live for today.

We are all going to die. But most of us think it will be later rather than sooner, but we could be wrong.  It could be tomorrow and we just don’t know it.

I am going down this path because a young family member, just 31, died recently following a brief but horrific battle with cancer.  That’s tough.   His dreams, ambitions and plans – all cruelly and abruptly ended – and not just for him,  but his family too.

As a parent, it is the wrong order of things.  As a wife, suddenly you are afloat alone  in the world, without your partner and your dreams of children are put on hold.  Maybe forever.

We can’t really prepare for the suddenness of death like this, but we can make sure that we live our lives to the fullest.

That realization was actually one of the gifts I received from having cancer, although I still go through times when I fret about stuff that just isn’t important in the scheme of things.

Take a look at what you want to do in life.  What is stopping you?  If you want to start a business or change what you are doing in your business – do it.  If you want to write a book, get started or if you want travel and see the world –set off.

Unfortunately we need these wake up calls on a regular basis, as we get complacent and stuck in the trenches of every day life.  Break free.  Make every minute count.

Friday, April 01, 2016

What advice would you give your younger self?

Now I have reached senior status, I‘ve been asking myself, what advice would I give to my younger self?   Here’s my top ten thoughts…

Don’t worry so much.  The worst will likely never happen.  I spent much of my time thinking “what if…”

Just because you feel it, doesn’t mean it’s true.  Now this is a tough one, especially when you are young and well… kinda self-absorbed.  Not everything is about you.  If you are sensitive (and I was) – then any slight seemed personal.

A mistake is just that… a mistake, not the end of the world.  It’s a lesson and the key is to learn it and move on… likely to make other mistakes.  We never stop learning.

Trust your gut instincts.  They are likely right.  If something seems too good to be true, it likely is.

Be true to yourself.   Spend time reflecting on what is important to you, what are the values you hold dear, and then you won’t be so easily compromised on what you believe.

Friendship is a two-way street.  You have to be one to get one. 

Friendships change.    While some friendships last through thick and thin, others fade as your interests and circumstances change.  Be OK with that.

It is never too late to change.   The only person you can change is yourself.  Change your attitude and your outcome can change too.

Shit happens.  It is how you deal with it that makes the difference.

Believe in yourself.   It is hard to ask others to believe in you if you are riddled with self-doubt and lack confidence in yourself.

As I came up with these ‘pearls of wisdom’ it struck me that most are about relationships – with yourself and others, which just goes to show that in the end, that’s all that matters – not the business, the work or career.   People.